Higher Percentage of Older Workers in the Work Force in 2010

The February 2011 EBRI Notes article shows there was a higher percentage of people age 55 and older (40.2 percent) in the work force in 2010—the highest level in 35 years—even after the 2008–2009 recession.

The analysis is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s data on labor-force participation among Americans age 55 and older, and focuses on what happened to trends after the economic recession that started in late 2007–early 2008. The first section uses annualized data on labor-force participation from the Current Population Survey (CPS), while the second section uses data from the March 2010 Supplement to the CPS.

The study found that the percentage of Americans age 55 or older who were in the labor force declined from 34.6 percent in 1975 to 29.4 percent in 1993. But since then, the overall labor-force participation rate has steadily increased, reaching 40.2 percent in 2010.

Additionally, for workers near retirement age (55–64), the labor-participation rate increased almost solely because of the increase of women in the work force, as the rate for men was flat to declining. However, the rates for men and women age 65 and older increased.

EBRI also found that education is a big factor for older individuals staying in the work force: Those with higher levels of education are more likely to stay at work than those with lower levels of education.

The full report is online here.  The press release is online here.